Richard L. Parish | 11/17/2004 11:25:51 PM
Many implements are available for rear mounting on compact utility tractors, including mowers of various types, tillers, angle blades, box blades, cultivators, bedders and rakes. These machines add versatility to your tractor, but mounting them to the tractor’s 3-point hitch can be a hassle. A quick hitch can make your job much easier.
Connecting an implement to the 3-point hitch on a tractor requires you to first back the tractor up into an exact position relative to the implement, then dismount and pull both lower hitch arms of the tractor over the lower hitch pins on the implement. If you didn’t position the tractor perfectly, you will have to move the implement or tractor to fit. Next, you have to connect the upper hitch arm and the PTO shaft, if used. Finally, you have to adjust the sway links, which may or may not require the use of one or two wrenches. This is not a tremendous job, but it is a hassle.
The Solution - Quick Hitches
A quick hitch is a device that attaches to all three hitch points on the tractor and then allows you to back up to the implement, lift and go. You shouldn’t even have to get off the tractor unless you have to connect a PTO shaft. Unhitching is almost as easy; you just reach back and release one or two levers then lower the hitch. It will disconnect as it lowers. Another major advantage of quick hitches is that once you adjust the sway links, you don’t need to change them again unless you want an implement to swing freely.
ASAE Standard Quick Hitch
The American Society of Agricultural Engineers has developed a series of standards for U-shaped quick hitches (Figure 1). There are ASAE standard quick hitches for compact utility tractors (Category 1) as well as farm tractors (Categories 2-4). ASAE standard quick hitches are designed to mate up with the three existing hitch pins on the implement, thus you have to buy only the tractor portion of the hitch; no additional parts are needed on the implement. This system works great as long as the implements conform to the ASAE standard.
Unfortunately, most implements for compact utility tractors are made by short-line implement manufacturers that completely ignore the ASAE hitch standards. This means that an ASAE standard quick hitch will not work with most small implements. You can sometimes remedy the problem with a welder and cutting torch, but most folks don’t want to rebuild their implements.
Delta-shaped Quick Hitch
Because of the refusal of short-line implement manufacturers to conform to ASAE standards, an alternative quick hitch system has been developed. This system, which is covered by an international (ISO) standard, consists of two components: a delta-shaped male hitch component that mounts on the tractor hitch (Figure 2) and a delta-shaped female hitch component that mounts on each implement (Figure 3). The implement component is adjustable to fit the widely varying dimensions found on small implements. You have to install an implement hitch component on each of your implements, so the cost is much higher than for the ASAE system, but once installed, the system will work with most implements.
Negatives with Quick Hitches
One negative to a quick hitch system is the cost. An ASAE Category 1 quick hitch will cost approximately $200; a delta-shaped hitch system will cost $300-$500 for the tractor component and then about $150 per implement. A second negative is that any quick hitch will move each implement back several inches. This puts more load on your tractor lift system and will make your tractor more difficult to steer by reducing the weight on the front tires.
A quick hitch system will make attaching implements to your tractor much easier. An ASAE standard hitch is inexpensive and works well - if your implements are all built to ASAE standards. The delta-shaped hitches are much more versatile but also much more expensive. Remember that, even with a quick hitch, you will still have to get off the tractor and connect the PTO shaft, if your implement uses a PTO.